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Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Raji Sankar, co-founder of Wholesome International, a multi-concept restaurant development company and co-chief executive officer of Choolaah, a fast-casual Indian restaurant, owned and operated by Wholesome International, with a modern commitment to good health featuring traditional Indian recipes, spices, and tandoor cooking.Choolaah has become a beloved gem in and of itself here in Cleveland with a growing presence in other cities like Pittsburgh.Raji has a refreshing perspective on leadership and company building as a student of companies before her own and mastering the best of what they’ve already figured out — Raji operates with a level of intentionality paid to company culture and commitment to the customer experience that feels representative of the best of the restaurant industry!Previously, she held executive and operational leadership positions in technology and media companies. She has served as an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University and as a member of the Board of Directors for Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity.In addition, Raji is an incredible storyteller and just fun to talk with — so please enjoy my conversation with Raji Sankar.--Learn more about ChoolaahConnect with Raji Sankar on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Lukas Minkov and Logan Schouman.Born and raised in Vienna, Austria and a former member of the Austrian Armed Forces, Lukas is the son of first-generation immigrants. Launching his first startup at the age of 17, he’s serially created companies spanning e-commerce marketing businesses, to most recently in 2020, an organization providing masks to marginalized communities and selling into the German Red Cross during the pandemic.Logan — born in Buffalo, NY — has a passion for entrepreneurship, a background in sales, and connected with Lukas as students at Kent State where together, they founded Afters[.]io and are building out IDRA — an acronym standing for Intelligent Demand and Revenue Augmentation.As they can attest to firsthand, consumers — particularly college students today — expect instant gratification when it comes to e-commerce delivery. Existing options, like Instacart, offer same-day delivery on groceries but can’t accommodate 10-15 minute deliveries during late night hours when college students need it most. Their focus has been to build out a hyper-speed delivery service that delivers everyday convenience store items like drink mixers, cleaning products, and snacks in 10 minutes or less. Through their bootstrapped trial at Kent State, they’ve validated this hypothesis yielding a 7-minute avg. delivery time on 2,600 fulfilled orders with $31K in revenue.As part of their experimentation, they also discovered value they could unlock beyond a local delivery service, where they are focused on coupling modern logistics best practices with AI to increase delivery speed and predict product demand with increased accuracy.I enjoyed learning about Logan and Lukas’ experience so far and am excited to see where they take Afters and IDRA next — please enjoy my conversation with Lukas Minkov and Logan Schouman.--Learn more about Afters.ioFollow on Twitter @AftersTweetsConnect with Lukas Minkov on LinkedInConnect with Logan Schouman on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Ed Weinfurtner, Executive Chairman of Great Day Improvements & Co-Founder at Blue Olive PartnersEd is an entrepreneur at heart and has been an investor, operator, and board member in a variety of privately held businesses over the past 40 years developing specific expertise in DTC home improvement, distribution, and manufacturing businesses. Most recently at the helm of Great Day Improvements, he’s grown the company by an order of a magnitude from $44M to $922M in sales in just 7 years — in the last year alone, the company grew its remodeling jobs from 9000 the year prior to nearly 68,000!As one of the largest Northeast Ohio companies, employing more than 2,100 people, Great Day Improvements is a vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer provider of home remodeling and premium building products: including Patio Enclosures brand sunrooms and screen rooms; Stanek brand windows and doors; Apex Energy Solutions energy efficient windows and doors; and Hartshorn Custom Contracting pool enclosures.Since Ed acquired the business in 2014, it has quadrupled in size and is now ranked as the 11th largest residential remodeling company in the US by Qualified Remodeler. It was recently named among the fastest-growing private companies in America by INC. Magazine and by Crain’s Cleveland Business as the fastest-growing privately held business in Northeast Ohio.I really enjoyed Ed’s reflection on his career and learning how he navigated the business through the pandemic and the deluge of downstream headwinds to his business from labor shortages to inflated material costs, to double down on the company’s core competency and find success through it. Please enjoy my conversation with Ed Weinfurtner.--Learn more about Great Day ImprovementsLearn more about Blue Olive PartnersConnect with Ed Weinfurtner on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Chef Douglas Katz.For the past 25 years, Doug has focused on creating fulfilling experiences for Clevelanders to enjoy. As chef & owner of Zhug, Chimi, and Amba here in Cleveland, his driving purpose is to spread joy through meaningful experiences and shared passion. Doug is also a chef & partner of Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as the former chef & owner of Fire Food and Drink — which operated in Shaker Square for more than 20 years.Doug is passionate about using fresh, high-quality ingredients with integrity and throughout his career has been celebrated for his unwavering support of local farmers and food artisans. He advocates nationally and internationally for sustainable, healthy and local food systems, and frequently consults with media and civic leaders on local food initiatives. He is an advisor for Seeds of Collaboration Tahini and Smart Soda. He also serves as a chef ambassador for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafoodwatch program, which promotes environmentally responsible fishing and fish farming, and as a consultant for Perfectly Imperfect Produce, which aims to reduce food waste and improve healthy food access. He also serves on the board of the Countryside in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and has held leadership positions with Destination Cleveland and Cleveland Independents, an organization of 90 locally owned restaurants that nurtures and promotes local independent restaurants.Esquire magazine named Zhug one of America’s best new restaurants in 2020 and back In 2014, the prestigious James Beard Foundation nominated Doug for Best Chef of the Great Lakes Region.Doug’s passion for his work is inspiring. It’s hard not to be a huge fan of Doug if you’ve gone to any of his restaurants and witnessed the care and attention he and his team provide to create the best experiences — I loved hearing about Doug’s passion for service & food and his journey to become one of Cleveland’s most renowned restauranteurs and chefs. Please enjoy my conversation with Chef Douglas Katz.--Learn more about Chef Douglas KatzConnect with Douglas Katz on LinkedInFollow Douglas Katz on Twitter @phiremanFollow Douglas Katz on InstagramLearn more about AmbaLearn more about ZhugFollow Zhug on InstagramLearn more about ChimiFollow Chimi on Instagram--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Michael Kubinski — Founder & CEO of Cleveland Clothing Company.From printing tees in a basement to the Best of Cleveland!, Cleveland Clothing Co. has been spreading Cleveland pride one t-shirt at a time since 2008. They are independent, local, and family-owned. A one-stop shop for Cleveland-themed graphic tees, apparel, accessories, gifts, and more!Founded by two lifelong friends. One, a graphic designer, had always dreamed of starting a t-shirt company. The other, an entrepreneur, was looking for a fun new opportunity. One fateful night over some beers, chili, and burgers at one of their favorite spots, Whitey's in Richfield, Ohio, they decided to put their money where their mouth was and came up with a plan. They purchased a screen printing press, some blank t-shirts, and got to work on a couple of designs. Cleveland Clothing was born. They started a website, used social media to get the word out and spent $50 on business cards, which they left around local businesses. Word began to spread, and the company was literally "Spreading Cleveland Pride, One T-Shirt at a Time" as the guys screened and shipped the shirts themselves…and the rest is history, as they say — a history that we’ll cover in our conversation today! Please enjoy my discussion with Michael Kubinksi--Learn more about Cleveland Clothing CompanyFollow Cleveland Clothing Company on Twitter @CLECLOTHINGCOFollow Cleveland Clothing Company on InstagramConnect with Michael Kubinski in LinkedInFollow Michael Kubinski on Twitter @MK_Creative--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Leopoldo Peña.Leo is the Co-Founder and CEO of Presta — a digital lending infrastructure that allows traditional financial institutions to better lend to small and medium-sized businesses by allowing them to book loans digitally.Leo’s prior professional experience has been centered around the world of government and civic technology — most recently focused on expanding access to equity investment. In 2019, he co-founded and launched The Opportunity Exchange, an equity investment marketplace for economic development projects. After powering projects in the majority of the US, The Opportunity Exchange was acquired by Bludot, a competitor in the space.Prior to that, Leo and I actually worked together as part of the founding team of Votem to launch a mobile voting platform designed to securely cast votes in elections across the globe, allowing members of the US military to participate in general and midterm elections while serving abroad, in addition to building out other core election infrastructure like voter registration systems.Leo currently resides here in Cleveland, Ohio with his dog Chamo, holds a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University, and is an alumnus of the Venture for America Fellowship.Leo is one of the best people I know — so needless to say I’ve been looking forward to having him on the podcast for a while now. I’m glad the timing finally made sense and I hope you all enjoy our conversation!--Learn more about PrestaConnect with Leopoldo Peña on LinkedInFollow Leo on Twitter @leodpena --Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Heather Lenz, Founder & CEO of Sangfroid Strategy. Heather has spent the past 16 years working in the social impact space - with nonprofits, governments, and foundations who are all trying to make improvements for the good of humanity, the environment, and society. About a decade into her work in the social impact space, she realized that in order for this social impact sector to be effective, there needed to be a dramatic shift in the way that most of these organizations and institutions thought about and used data. This realization is at the center of Sangfroid Strategy (pronounced sahng-fwa), the company Heather founded in 2016 to help organizations tackle some of the most complex and difficult issues of our time - from combatting systemic racism, to changing antiquated systems that create barriers for people in poverty.Heather is on a mission to shift this landscape from one that makes people feel good - to one that is effective for the people who need it and has done so by working with many Cleveland organizations like The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to The City of Lakewood, to name a few.I loved hearing Heather’s story, learning about how data is currently used in the nonprofit sector, and where societally we have a massive opportunity right now to leverage advances in technology — automation, data science, open source software systems, and more — for social good.Please enjoy my conversation with Heather Lenz.--Learn more about Sangfroid StrategyFollow Sangfroid Strategy on LinkedInConnect with Heather Lenz on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of the Land's conversation today is with Pat Conway and Mark King of Great Lakes Brewing Company.Pat and his brother Daniel founded the company back in 1988 in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood where it’s been independent for over 30 years and employee-owned since 2018 — serving 14 states and Washington D.C. with an award-winning and beloved selection of fresh, flavorful, and innovative craft beers that Clevelanders and others around the country have come to love like their Dortmunder and Christmas Ale.In 2019, Mark King joined the company as the CEO after an extensive career in the industry as a vice president at Anheuser-Busch, and most recently, having founded his own cidery back in 2013 down in Austin, Texas — Austin Eastciders.We cover a lot in this conversation, from the history of breweries and beer production in Cleveland, to Great Lake Lake’s Brewing commitment to a triple bottom line of brewing good — from beer to community to environmental stewardship, to their role as a staple in Cleveland through events like the Burning River festival, to how they are handling the ever-changing beer industry — from the proliferation of craft breweries to “beyond beer” beverages like seltzers.Great Lakes Brewing has blazed a trail for so many other Cleveland companies and entrepreneurs and it is a privilege to capture a piece of their story here and how they are thinking about what comes next — please enjoy my conversation with Pat Conway and Mark King!--Learn more about Great Lakes Brewing CompanyConnect with Mark King on LinkedInFollow Great Lakes Brewing Company on InstagramFollow Great Lakes Brewing Company on Twitter--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Lila Mills — founding editor-in-chief of Signal Cleveland (formerly known as the Ohio Local News Initiative Cleveland newsroom).Lila has been working in community and media for more than 20 years. She most recently spent almost 11 years with the nationally-recognized community building program Neighborhood Connections where her work ranged from editing a community newspaper to serving as associate director. Prior to that, Mills was a student newspaper advisor at Cuyahoga Community College and a reporter at the Plain Dealer. Born and raised on the southeast side of Cleveland, Lila is a first-generation college graduate with degrees from Columbia University.From 2000 to 2020, the newspaper industry's advertising revenue fell by an estimated 80%, from 2000 to 2018, weekday newspaper circulation fell from 55.8 million households to an estimated 28.6 million, 1800 communities have lost their local newsroom since 2004, over 2000 papers have closed since 2004 and there’s been a 60% reduction newsroom jobs since 2008 — needless to say, access to Local News across the country is waning.Signal Cleveland — a nonprofit initiative formed by The American Journalism Project and a coalition of Ohio-based organizations like the Cleveland Foundation, the John S. And James L. Knight Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation, the Visible Voice Charitable Fund, and the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation — has raised over $5.8 million in funding aiming to be a trusted source of daily news and information for Greater Clevelanders.Lila has incredible perspective working through all of the challenges that come with starting a newsroom from scratch with real understanding of the Cleveland nuance — very much enjoyed hearing her thoughts on the whole endeavor and the implications this can have for Cleveland! Please enjoy my conversation with Lila Mills!--Learn more about Signal ClevelandLearn more about the American Journalism ProjectConnect with Lila Mills on LinkedInFollow Signal Cleveland on Twitter @signalclevelandFollow Signal Cleveland on Instagram: with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of The Land's conversation today is with Anne Skoch — Founder and CEO of Anne Cate. Anne Cate is a made‐in‐America accessories brand and manufacturing firm specializing in skyline silhouette purses and pillows. A proud Kent State graduate and Clevelander, she has scaled her business from a sewing machine in her dorm room to a manufacturing studio, employing a team full time to create success with their hands. More than just made in America — Anne Cate is made in Cleveland where the production staff sews every product.Anne Cate sells in over 150 small and large stores across the country, works with corporate clients such as Hulu and Keybank, and distributes thousands of products monthly through their site, Anne’s favorite part of her job is bringing joy to her customers through her products. To her customers, the products are more than just a purse or a pillow; they tell a story that is unique to each person.Anne has been featured as one of Wawak's 2020 Finest Designer's and Sewists, honored as a 2021 Northeast Ohio Top 25 Under 35 Movers & Shakers, graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, received the 2021 Best of Cleveland award, and featured as a 2021 Notable Entrepreneur in Crains Magazine.With that, I loved learning about Anne’s perspective on how to marry art and business and pursue your passion as a profession — please enjoy my conversation with Anne Skoch.--Learn more about Anne CateFollow Anne Cate on Instagram: Anne Cate on Twitter @shopAnneCateConnect with Anne Skoch on LinkedIn--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Lay of the Land's conversation today is with Sherrill Paul Witt — founder of Lolly The Trolley.A beloved icon since 1985, Lolly the Trolley is itself a moving local gem, covering 3.1 million miles during its 37 years on the road where they had as many as 15 trolleys with about 150 people working there.When the company was started, Cleveland didn't have the sites and tourist attractions that are known by residents and visitors alike — at that time Sherrill took a chance and provided Clevelanders and tourists with a new way to experience the city that was in the early stages of rebirth.Lolly the Trolley became a rolling ambassador for the city, offering vantages and sightseeing for visitors and residents helping many — myself included — get to know Cleveland much more intimately and create lasting memories.After almost 40 years of running the business, Sherrill and her co-founder Peter Paul decided to permanently close the company in May of 2022. It was a privilege to hear Sherrill’s reflections on the journey and the evolution of Cleveland throughout that time and how their tours affected so many from around the country and world — from brides to students to sports fans to tourists to locals. Please enjoy my conversation with Sherrill Paul Witt--Learn more about Lolly the Trolley--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with Dallas Hogensen.Dallas is the CEO of Felux — making steel sexy since 2019 — which was established by a team of steel and technology experts to create the world’s largest operating platform and marketplace to help solve commerce for the steel industry.Having raised over $24 million since inception — under Dallas’ leadership, Felux has grown exponentially over the last few years in their effort to digitize the $2 trillion traditional, paper-based steel industry as they’ve built out their platform to manage the entire steel sourcing process — from procurement to logistics and financing — facilitating many hundreds of millions in transactions.Dallas joined Felux after a decade building and scaling companies. His previous work includes co-founding Liveli and Signal HQ (which were acquired in 2016 and ’20, respectively), plus two top sales jobs at Lyft where he led Lyft Business to become a billion-dollar run rate business unit.Dallas has deep and insightful perspective on marketplaces, the challenges of company building, and the importance of culture — this was one of my favorite conversations to date and I hope you all enjoy it as well.--Connect with Dallas Hogensen on LinkedInFollow Dallas Hogensen on Twitter @dallashogensenLearn more about Felux--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with Shawn Rech, a Cleveland-native and Emmy Award-winning producer and director who's created over 200 episodes of television programs that are currently licensed around the world and several films that have appeared on Showtime, Starz and Netflix.Shawn's first film — A Murder in the Park — was named one of TIME magazine's “15 Most Fascinating Crime Stories Ever Told.”In addition to the hundreds of hours of television programs and documentaries he has directed and produced through Transition Studios, where he serves as CEO and co-founder, he also is the founder of two boutique streaming services, AGTV and TruBlu — where he is focused on offering low-cost streaming services featuring factual programming and helping to grow Cleveland's permanent media industry.I really enjoyed working through Shawn’s perspective on the importance of factual programming and positively affecting history through truth-telling and documentary production — please enjoy my conversation with Shawn Rech--Connect with Shawn Rech on LinkedInLearn more about Transition StudiosLearn more about AGTVFollow Shawn Rech on Twitter: Transition Studios on Twitter: AGTV on Twitter: with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with Graham Veysey and Fisk Biggar — founders of Graham+Fisk’s Wine-In-A-Can.Headquartered in the 1854 brick firehouse in Cleveland’s Hingetown enclave, their wine in a can is now distributed in over 40 U.S. States, Asia, and the Caribbean and has won numerous accolades including being named #16 on the Wine Enthusiast Magazine Top 100 Best Buy list.Graham and Fisk are childhood pals who met 25 years ago at Camp Roosevelt on the Shores of Lake Erie. In 2015 Graham came to fisk with the idea to put wine in cans and the rest, which explore in our conversation today, is history!Prior to founding and running Graham and Fisk’s wine in a can — Fisk was a member of the founding team for BB’s Kitchen in Aspen, CO, where he served as the General Manager — in 2011, “BB’s” was named as one of Colorado’s top restaurants by Esquire.Meanwhile, Graham is also a neighborhood developer in Hingetown, where the company resides — he serves on the boards of the Cleveland Foundation and the Bidwell Foundation; he’s the Principal of North Water Productions – an Emmy-Award-winning production firm creating content for global brands, arts and cultural institutions, and political campaigns. Additionally, Graham consults for the Aspen Institute and is a contributing producer for the Aspen Ideas Festival and New Orleans book festival; a Contributor for Vanity Fair, and formerly was the project director for the Ohio City Farm, a six-acre urban farm here in Cleveland.Graham and fisk have an incredible story and dynamic as friends and co-founders and certainly seem to have the most fun doing it together — please, find yourself a Graham+Fisk's Wine-In-A-Can, crack it open, and enjoy my conversation with Graham and Fisk!--Connect with Graham Veysey on LinkedInConnect with Fisk Biggar on LinkedIn Follow Graham Veysey on Twitter: Graham+Fisk's Wine-In-A-Can on Twitter: Graham+Fisk's Wine-In-A-Can on Instagram: more about Graham+Fisk’s Wine-In-A-Can --Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with Tom Tyrrell, Founder and Chairman of Great Lakes Biomimicry, an entrepreneurial 501(c)(3) organization (recently having merged with the Ohio Aerospace Institute) with a mission to create conditions for innovation through biomimicry, focused on assisting organizations explore new opportunities, solve problems and drive sustainability.Biomimicry, which we’ll explore in much more detail in our conversation, seeks to drive this innovation by harnessing the intelligence found in nature’s 3.8 billion years of R&D — asking questions nature has already found the answers to — for example questions like how does nature manage structural forces, sense motion and temperature, manage temperature, change shape, coordinate, optimize material and energy? how does nature evolve to survive; adapt to changing conditions; be locally attuned and responsive; be resource efficient; employ life-friendly chemistry?Prior to founding Great Lakes Biomimicry, Tom was a co-founder and chairman of Segmint, a Northeast-Ohio-based startup and provider of data analytics-driven marketing technology (acquired by Alkami in April 2022).He was a Co-Founder, Senior Advisor, and Director of Glengary, which combined a network of support services with investment capital.Tom’s thirty-three-year career prior, all in the metals industry, included significant turnaround, M&A, and IPO experience, with responsibility for four start-ups, restarts, or consolidations ranging from $250M – $1.5B in sales, partnering directly with investment firms including Primus Venture Partners, PNC Equity Management, Warburg Pincus and The Blackstone Group.  In 1988 he was awarded Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) award for Business and Industry and, in 1989, was selected as an entrepreneur of the year finalist for the restart and operation of the American Steel & Wire Company.Since moving to the Cleveland area in 1986, Tom has spent virtually all his spare time engaged with the three E’s – Education, Environment, and Entrepreneurism – all focused on enhancing Northeast-Ohio's regional economic development. He has actively supported both undergraduate and graduate-level entrepreneurial programs at midwestern colleges and universities as a trustee of Elmhurst College, Baldwin-Wallace College, and Lorain County Community College where he is also a member of the GLIDE Innovation Fund Board and served on the NorTech Board of Trustees, the Youngstown Business Incubator Board, and the Akron Archangels. He also was a trustee of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association, the oversight board for the federally funded Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway. Tom has been involved with the Canalway since 1988, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Conservancy of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was the Founding Chair of the Trails Forever Endowment Leadership Initiative for the Conservancy and a former trustee of the Cleveland Zoological Society.This was easily one of my favorite discussions to date covering a wide range of topics and the full breadth of tom’s experience — I hope you all enjoy my conversation with Tom Tyrrell!--Connect with Tom Tyrrell on LinkedinFollow on Great Lakes Biomimicry on Twitter: Segmint on Twitter: Learn more about Great Lakes Biomimicry Learn more about Segmint--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with Baiju Shah, who is the president and CEO of Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP).GCP is the region’s leading economic development organization with over 12,000 members — the largest metropolitan chamber of commerce in the nation. Guided by a board of corporate and entrepreneurial CEOs, the organization focuses on accelerating growth and prosperity for Cleveland through strategic initiatives, business services, real estate development, and advocacy — which we will unpack more in our conversation today.Prior to GCP, Baiju served as the Senior Fellow for Innovation at The Cleveland Foundation, and previously served as CEO and Board Member of BioMotiv, co-lead The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $380 million US and UK drug development initiative which he helped launch, and also formerly served as CEO board member, and co-founder of BioEnterprise, a business formation, recruitment, and acceleration initiative that assisted companies in securing resources and funding to support their growth — During his tenure, BioE assisted more than 110 companies that together attracted $1.3 billion in new private funding.Beyond this, Baiju has a plethora more of experience, has been named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and has been recognized as one of Cleveland’s most influential leaders. Please enjoy my conversation with Baiju Shah--Connect with Baiju Shah on LinkedinFollow Baiju Shah on Twitter: Greater Cleveland Partnership on Twitter: more about Greater Cleveland Partnership--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with David Sylvan, president of UH Ventures — the innovation and commercialization division of University Hospitals — a Cleveland-based health system with two dozen hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and over 200 physician offices located throughout 16 counties.UH Ventures comprises a diverse array of professionals with deep domain expertise ranging from venture investing and company formation, to human-centered and experience design, as well as physicians, clinicians, and researchers who collectively seek to bring innovation to life in service to University Hospitals’ mission. Leading the organization, David gets a real breadth of exposure to intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship through a lens of the future of healthcare.Through my own company, Axuall, I’ve had the privilege to see how David approaches this fascinating world of healthcare innovation as he’s invested in, advised, coached, and helped Axuall mature as a company over the last three years.David comes to UH Ventures with more than 30 years of diverse corporate experience, most recently following a successful 15-year career in capital markets and investment banking, where he led a derivatives trading and public finance investment banking platform. Prior to this, David spent 8 years in a variety of responsibilities at the sports marketing giant, IMG. He started his career in public accounting with Deloitte in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is an adjunct professor locally at Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) Weatherhead School of Business in their department of Design & Innovation.I really enjoyed pulling back the curtain here on the inner workings of hospital venture groups and the work David is focused on here at University Hospitals — Please enjoy my conversation with David Sylvan.--Connect with David Sylvan on LinkedInFollow David Sylvan on Twitter @davidsylvanFollow UH Ventures on Twitter @uh_venturesLearn more about University Hospital Ventures--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with Dr. Colleen M. Lorber — Founder & CEO of Wraparound Experts.Colleen Lorber has her Ph.D. in School Psychology and founded Wraparound Experts from over 15 years in the field, combining her knowledge of the environments and professionals that she has worked with to provide a model of services that “wrap around” a child and the environments and people that influence the success of the child every day.Colleen knew she wanted to be a child psychologist in the 6th grade and that goal and determination drove her to complete her doctorate at the age of 27. During her undergraduate and graduate school years, Colleen worked at residential treatment facilities for at-risk youth where she helped children with autism through behavioral therapy and mobile therapy services.When Colleen was completing her doctorate, she began working at a privately owned company as a psychology intern and after 15 years, she departed from the company as its Chief Operating Officer where she was managing over 1,000 employees spanning psychologists, speech therapists, special education teachers, Title 1 teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, RNs, LPNs, Medical Assistants, and School Health Aides.Unfortunately, the research coming out examining the current state of our society’s mental health is dismal. The pandemic has clearly had an effect on how we are operating our everyday lives. Colleen and Wraparound Experts believe that the way to begin to work on our mental health, starting with children in Ohio, is to bring it back to concentrate on our basic human needs which include not only our physical/biological needs but also our feelings of safety/security, love and belonging, and esteem — this is the exact nature of the work Colleen is pushing forward with Wraparound Experts and what we spend our conversation exploring today — Please enjoy my conversation with Colleen Lorber.--Connect with Dr. Colleen Lorber on LinkedInLearn more about Wrap Around ExpertsFollow Wraparound Experts on Twitter @wraparoundexpe1--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with David Davis II — Founder & CEO of FBA Flip.David is a native Clevelander where he currently resides. After high school, David directly immersed himself into the tech-startup world. He’s been an entrepreneur his whole life — since the age of 13, he’s been involved in various direct-to-consumer eCommerce projects generating over 7-figures before he turned 21.Gathering years of experience in online retail, David founded FBA Flip, a marketplace to service the emerging world of eCommerce M&A transactions in the Amazon ecosystem.David is an orator with an endless mental well of intellectual and well-thought-through ideas — it’s always a pleasure getting to hear his perspective on entrepreneurship, the changing dynamics of the modern internet-first world we find ourselves in, and the challenges, opportunities, and prospects for the city of Cleveland — Please enjoy my conversation with David Davis.--Connect with David Davis II on LinkedInLearn more about FBA FlipFollow David Davis on Twitter--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
Our conversation today is with William J. Littlefield II — President and CTO of Wizest!At Wizest, Billy is on a mission to build a next-generation investment trading platform that democratizes access to financial expertise. Wizest recently closed on $1.7mm in financing and was featured in Forbes as a better solution to the problems posed by Robinhood.Billy has an eclectic background — spending more than a decade training with various Olympic coaches and athletes in the sport of ice skating, qualifying and competing at the US Figure Skating Championships as a singles skater. Prior to Wizest, Billy spent a lot of time outside of the world of software development, academically working to reconcile 21st century technology, politics, and economics with longstanding concepts in philosophy where his recent research has been divided between applied ethics, social theory, and artificial intelligence. Specifically, he has explored the ethics of technological progress and its impact on climate justice and geopolitics.Billy earned a graduate degree in world literature and philosophy from Case Western Reserve University, where he also received a degree in natural sciences with a concentration in chemistry.Really enjoyed this conversation spanning everything from how Wizest is working to democratize access to financial expertise to Billy’s path to Cleveland, to digital nomadacy, to philosophy, and more — hope you all enjoy it as well!--Connect with William J. Littlefield II on LinkedInLearn more about WizestFollow Billy on Twitter @wjlittlefield2--Connect with Jeffrey Stern on LinkedInFollow Jeffrey Stern on Twitter @sternJefeFollow Lay of The Land on Twitter @podlayoftheland
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